Thanks to healthier lifestyle choices and advancements in medicine, Americans are now living longer than ever before. As a result, many aging-in-place seniors end up living on fixed budgets. For some, choosing between nutritious foods and prescription meds is a monthly dilemma. Sadly, millions of elderly Americans suffer from malnutrition. If those nutritional deficiencies continue, it can lower a senior’s quality of life and place their independence at risk. March is National Nutrition Month, making it the perfect time to show your special senior how to eat right on a budget. 

How Malnutrition Affects the Elderly

As the body ages nutritional needs also change, starting with an increased demand for nutrients like Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Minerals like calcium are also needed to maintain bone health. In addition to other factors like poor appetite, swallowing difficulties and immobility, making ends meet on a fixed budget causes many seniors to not eat right.

In general, malnutrition can cause these health problems in the elderly:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Weakened immune system, increasing their risk for infections  
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle weakness and reduced bone density, increasing one’s risk for falling
  • Greater likelihood for hospitalizations and even death

To make matters worse, malnutrition is hard to diagnose because the symptoms mimic those of certain other medical conditions or medication side effects. As a result, many seniors that are malnourished don’t get the care they need.

Budget-Friendly Dietary Tips for Seniors

When your loved one is of a mindset that he or she can’t afford to prepare nutritious foods, the first step is respectfully convincing them otherwise. As their informal caregiver, these are some of the budget-friendly steps you can take to ensure that seniors eat right all week:

Grocery shop together

Determine how much your loved one has set aside every month for groceries. If mom used to do the food shopping, now that she’s gone, dad may not be the world’s most frugal grocery shopper. Highly processed foods like chips and frozen dinners are handy, but they can be pricey. Additionally, most lack the essential nutrients your father needs.

Volunteer to take him to the store. Once there, walk straight past those unhealthier, processed food displays and guide dad to the fresh produce section. Look for fruits and veggies that are in-season, and then check out store specials for lean meats, low-fat dairy products and fish. Spending quality time with your senior at the grocery will help them eat healthier while staying within their budget- and give you both a chance to bond!

Practice portion control 

Another way to lower monthly food costs is by reducing portion sizes. Encourage your loved one to avoid “super-sized” fast food meals that are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Another trick is serving freshly prepared foods on smaller plates.

Fill their plate with a colorful variety of strategically spaced vegetables, grains and complex carbohydrates, as opposed to more expensive cuts of meat. When you choose to prepare meats, serve smaller portions by cutting that juicy steak in half. Using these portion-control tips should still leave your loved one feeling satisfied even after they walk away from the table.

Dining out tips 

When going out to eat, your senior should avoid fast food establishments. Instead patronize local places with good, healthy foods at reasonable prices. The local farmer’s market or diner may have inexpensive lunch specials. When ordering dinner, encourage your loved one to ask the server to split up the meal into two portions. One half can be eaten there at the restaurant and the other half taken home to enjoy the following day.

Reliable In-Home Meal Assistance for Frugal Seniors 

Helping seniors eat right on a limited budget can be challenging when you’re short on time. At Dependable Senior Care, our highly qualified and trained caregivers can assist your aging loved one with all their budget-friendly food shopping, meal preparation and cleanup needs. In addition to meals, our licensed and insured professionals can assist with other daily living activities like personal care, companionship care, respite care, nursing assistance, Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

At DSC, our personalized services are available 7 days a week, ranging from a few hours per day to 24-hour and live-in care. Our mission is providing in-home, daily living assistance that supports seniors and their families in South Florida. To learn more now or to schedule a consultation out of our Palm Beach, Miami-Dade or Broward County offices, please visit Dependable Senior Care at!